David Vincenzetti, who launched Hacking Team in 2003, was arrested when police showed up at his apartment after his cousin called the police, local media reported, because he couldn’t reach his wife on the phone. According to the Italian newspaper Il Giornothe woman visited Vincenzetti, who reportedly had psychological issues, to take care of her.
When Vincenzetti appeared before the judge, he did not talk about the incident, but instead rambled about work and his companies, prompting the judge to order prosecutors to look into his mental state. in health, according to La Stampa. The judge also ordered the man to remain in prison as a precaution, the newspaper reported.
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Reached by phone, a phone operator at Milan’s San Vittore prison, where Vincenzetti is reportedly being held, said they could not confirm whether Vincenzetti was an inmate or allow TechCrunch to speak to any inmates.
Vincenzetti has been out of the public spotlight since 2020, when he declared on his LinkedIn account that Hacking Team is “dead.” A year later, Vincenzetti sold the company, which was re-branded by Memento Labs.
Hacking Team was one of the first companies to develop and sell spyware to governments; initially in Italy, and later throughout the world. At its peak, Hacking Team had about 40 government customers, including in Spain, Hungary, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Colombia, Ecuador, South Korea, and Malaysia.
After years of flying under the radar, security researchers have found that customers want MoroccoTHE United Arab Emiratesand Ethiopia used Hacking Team tools to target and hack journalists and dissidents. The company has always defended itself, saying it only sells to governments that can sell it legally, and that it is not responsible for what customers do with their devices.
In 2015, a mysterious vigilante hacker known as “Phineas Fisher” hacked Hacking Team and leaked thousands of internal company emails, and – crucially – the source code of the spyware. The catastrophic breach prompted key developers to leave the company, and forced the company to ask customers to temporarily stop using its products. Gradually, the company began to lose customers, tried to re-brand, sold part of its shares to Saudi investors, and was finally sold to new management.